The ticking time bomb and necessity

Suter, Tim J. (2010) The ticking time bomb and necessity. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Can torture be morally justified? The September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States sparked a populist and academic debate about whether the use of torture, in proscribed circumstances, is permissible. The debate has sharply divided between those who advocate the use of torture as a utilitarian tool to protect civilians from imminent terrorist attack and the deontological moral absolutists, who argue that every individual, irrespective of who they are, must be respected as rational beings with fundamental and inviolable rights. Often the deontological synopsis is overshadowed by the controversial, yet populist, claims that whilst torture is barbaric we must allow it in exceptional circumstances. Alan Dershowitz in particular, has argued that if a democratic society is to torture, then it must do so under the cover of law through a system of torture warrants. This paper argues for the unqualified dismissal of any attempt to justify torture. It will draw a historical narrative analysing the definition of torture and the reasons that states resort to it. The irrefutable conclusion is that whatever justification is put forward to utilise torture, the consequences for society are too great. Torture, for any purpose, has the long term potential to undermine and, ultimately, to destroy our democratic institutions.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:49
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:16

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